The variety of wines available to enjoy is practically endless. Some of the major wine types available include:
A description of different types of wine begins with classification. Wines of all types can be classified by either the primary grape variety or the region where the grapes were grown. Wines classified by the type of grape they contain are called varietals and wines classified by the growing region are named for the region itself.
Even within types of wine there is a great variety of flavor and texture, due to the climate of growing regions. A warm, wet year will produce grapes with a different flavor than a cooler, dryer growing season. This is why some labels and years are more valuable than others.
Types of Red Wine
Red wine comes from black grapes. The grapes are fermented whole, with the skin and pips intact. These wines can be light or sweet, refreshing or mellow. Here are some of the major types of red wine:
- Barbera: This grape is similar to Merlot, but not as well known. Barbera wines go well with many dishes, including those prepared with tomato sauce. Their taste is similar to black cherry and plum fruit, with a silky texture.
- Cabernet Sauvignon: Considered one of the world”s best varieties of grape, Cabernet Sauvignon is often paired with Cabernet Franc and Merlot. It is often served with red meat and has a full-bodied flavor.
- Merlot: Merlot wines are considered “easy to drink” and are a good introduction to red wines. They can be served with any type of food and have a rough, tannic flavor.
- Pinot Noir: These grapes are difficult to grow and are rarely blended with other varieties. They are often served with chicken, lamb and salmon. The taste of Pinot Noir wines is delicate and fresh, with a fruity aroma and earthy notes.
- Syrah or Shiraz: Syrah and Shiraz are both names for the same variety of grape. These red wines go well with beef, steak, stew and wild game. The taste is fruity with black pepper/roast meat overtones and gripping tannins.
- Zinfandel: Considered the world”s most versatile grape, Zinfandel is used to make wines from blushes to rich, heavy reds. Depending of the heaviness of a particular Zinfandel wine, it may be served with pasta in tomato sauce, pizza or meat. Zinfandel has a zesty berry and pepper flavor.
Types of White Wine
Since all grape juice starts out colorless, white wines can be made from white or black grapes. Flavors of white wines can range from very dry to sweet and golden. The five main types of white wine are:
- Chardonnay: This popular grape can be made into sparkling or still wine. It goes well with fish and chicken dishes. Chardonnay has a wide-bodied, velvety citrus flavor. When fermented in a new oak barrel, it has a buttery tone that can resemble coconut, toast, toffee or vanilla.
- Gewurztraminer: Wine made from this aromatic grape is often served with Asian food, pork and sausages. It has a fruity flavor with allspice, lychee, peach and rose in the aroma.
- Muscat: Rather than a single variety, Muscat describes a family of grapes. Muscat wines are best enjoyed on their own, without any type of food. Muscat is a type of sweet wine with a musky, grapefruit aroma.
- Riesling: Riesling wines are fresh tasting and improve with age. They compliment chicken, fish and pork. Riesling wines are light and reminiscent of fresh apples.
- Sauvignon Blanc: These wines are considered versatile food wines and are often served with poultry, seafood and salads. They have a flavor which is both herbal and fruity, and can sometimes also be smoky.